Blue Underground // 1974 // 88 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // June 17th, 2003
Hot girl-on-girl action...Nosferatu style!
In a spooky old house in bloody olde England, a couple of hot tomatoes get aerated by an unknown assassin seemingly for expressing themselves in titillating, taboo-busting fashion. Toddle over to some other narrative strand, and we now follow John and Harriet as they head out into the British countryside to caravan their bad oral hygiene away. Coincidently, the local Good Sam campsite is right outside the moldy murder mansion. Scanning the horizon for yet another plotline, we find a mysterious business man named Ted, who runs into a comely hitchhiker named Fran on the road near...you guessed it, that ancient abattoir abode. Without so much as an introduction, they have a hot night of "knockin' tha boots." In the morning, Ted wakes feeling surprisingly tired and drained (and not just of his precious male essence). Seems he has a fissure in his arm the size of Anna Nicole's ass crack. As he struggles with epidermal erosion, we witness Fran, joined by her special female "friend" Miriam as they pick up, pickle, and pry apart more dopey dudes. Harriet the indirect spy can't help but notice that these decidedly homo honeys get more horny hetero hot-chas than she does. So she makes it her goal to discover their certified bi techniques. Eventually all the divergent details start to mesh as everyone discovers what the attentive members of the audience have been privy to since the revelation of boobie numero uno. Fran and Miriam are undead drinkers of human blood who just so happen to enjoy the music of the Indigo Girls. They are red-hot lesbian marrow lickers. They are Vampyres!
Where to begin with a movie like Vampyres? How do you discuss it's rather depraved combination of hellspawn with Howard Stern and do both the killings and the kinkiness justice? To only focus on the frisky mattress moments without dealing with the vivisecting or atmospheric aura present would be like discussing an issue of Hustler without mentioning Larry Flint's speech impediment. Probably the best way to approach a review of Vampyres is to micromanage it, to tell fans of specific genres what they will be getting once they break open the DVD seal and pop this slick bit of soft core horror porn into their player:
FOR THE SEXPLOITATION CROWD: WOOOOO BUDDY!!! YEE-HAW! YOUSAH, YOUSAH YOUSAH! HOT! HOT! HOT! Lesbian action and lots of it. For those of you who find the near tasteful display of two luscious babes getting their ya-yas out and off on each other enticing, Vampyres will definitely brush up your Shakespeare, not to mention waxing your cricket bat. Not since Salt N Peppa or Musique has pushing and bushing been celebrated in such a sinfully sexy way. Marianne Morris and the sultry, single named Anulka give a new Au France meaning to the English phrase "stiff upper lip." These ample actresses, while occasionally as forced as a Jim Carrey performance in their power powder puffing, really generate a great deal of male fantasy frenzy. And this really is some steamy under the business suit spelunking for 1974. A shower scene between the two fetching fraulines is enough to have you reaching for some soap on a rope to do a little light personal "grooming."
FOR THE GOREHOUNDS: As the old cinematic slasher mantra goes, "for every act of sexual sin, there must be an equally effective Tom Savini scene of soulless slaughter." Well, Vampyres doesn't have the inspired insanity of Romero's favorite bloodletter to load the screen with sanguine sauce, but this doesn't keep our British brethren from finding their own recipe for "clotted" cream and splattering it all over the countryside in prim and proper puddles of pain. Particularly, there is an unnerving death of a young man at the hands of the blood lusting Lesbos that screams of agony and ferocity. His skin torn in large hunks and wounds leaking gallons of grue, the lovelies give him a fatal tongue bath the likes of which you are "bound" to see on reruns of Real Sex. Ghastly stabbings, open arm wounds that seep like soiled underpants, and sensual mouths filled with craven claret are the cinematic calling cards of this brazen bisexual bloodbath. While it may be no organ reorganizing Day of the Dead, Vampyres is still one delicious artery cocktail.
FOR THE HAMMER FAN: Though made by a Spaniard for a home country producer trying to outdo the classic British horror factory (and succeeding, thank you), Vampyres has enough of the UK stalwart's atmosphere and rococo settings to have you wondering when Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing will show up for tea. The main manor used in the film is, indeed, Hammer's old standby castle haunt. But the filmmakers find other wonderfully evocative surroundings to shape their sinister, sensual saga. From forests filled with fall weather foliage to ornate interiors that evoke gothic decadence and decay, Vampyres provides the look and feel of a standard Bray Studios fright fest without resorting to its trademarked tired plotting, excessively talky drawing room monologues or tartan wearing groundskeepers, complete with mangy dogs, holding lanterns up to iron gates.
FOR THE VAMPIRE LOVER: Look, if the only choice you have for revisionist vampirism is between Anne Rice and her fey gay suckling succubae and these lipstick life drainers, only someone like Trent Reznor's towel boy would levitate in his loafers over the Black Queen's supernatural Queer as Folk. Lovers of really naughty neck biters would and should instead invest their obsession on a couple of true Transylvania tigresses. True, these creatures of the night don't spend their evenings avoiding garlic or days resting in a Sealy Posterpedic Sarcophagus, but they do obey the prime rule of the paranormal parasite; basically, they loves their blood, boy howdy! Bram Stoker may be spinning in his family plot over the liberties taken with his immortality mythology, but let's face it, what would you rather look at for 88 minutes? Some moldering Count who resembles a healthier Michael Jackson sipping on rats or these dirty daughters of Dracula? I thought so.
FOR THE HORROR BUFF: As an actual work of evocative, erotic horror, Vampyres works surprisingly well. Much of the credit must go to director/writer (under a pseudonym) Jose Ramon Larraz. He creates a narrative filled with unexplained scenes, missing information and wildly suggestive sensuality that keeps the viewer tantalized and teased throughout the running time. He utilizes the incredibly moody settings and countryside of England to give his movie more than a modicum of murderous menace. He then adds those red herrings and scenes of mysterious consequence to keep things unsettled and surprising. Match that with a couple of curvaceous creatures and the aforementioned torrents of red torment, and you've got a good little gothic terror on your hands. Anyone looking for a linear narrative revolving around traditional vampire lore will be sadly disappointed by this ribald re-imagining of Count Vlad's naughty nieces. But if you like your fright on the fiendishly fleshy side, you'll truly enjoy this vixen version of Vampyres.
The Big Blue U, otherwise known as Blue Underground, continuously resets the benchmark for restoration and bonus content with each new set of DVD releases. Here, they treat Vampyres like a coochie Criterion Collection, lovingly restoring the film to its full, uncut widescreen glory. The print here is magnificent, looking virtually brand new. There is some minor artifacting in a single night scene toward the end, but overall, the anamorphic 1.85:1 letterboxed image is a stunner. Aurally, the presentation here preserves the Dolby Digital Mono and the soundtrack is clean and crisp. As for that wealth of extras, we begin with trailers and galleries, focusing on both the international and domestic advertising of the film. We then get a still frame recreation of a lost sequence from the movie. While nothing major to the overall plotting of the story, it's nice to have it here nonetheless. Next there is a glamorous gallery focusing solely on the attractive attributes of actress Anulka. Then we are treated to a lengthy and detailed bio of filmmaker Jose Ramon Larraz. But the best two extras are saved for last. First is a brand new 14-minute interview with stars Marianne Moore and Anulka. Both ladies have aged gracefully and it's fascinating to hear them discuss how a little low budget horror film with "some minor nudity included" turned into such a torrid tale of hot lesbian lust. Neither is offended or ashamed of their work and both point to it as a highlight of their career. They do react with a level of discomfort when discussing the fact that they had their voices dubbed by other actresses in the final cut. Still, it's great to hear their side of the story, especially when the last extra paints the production in a totally different light.
The last bonus from Blue U is a commentary (lifted from a previous Anchor Bay issue of the film) featuring producer Brian Smedley-Aston and professed "dirty old man" director Jose Ramon Larraz. The contrast between the two personalities couldn't be greater. Smedly-Astin is all courtesy and calm. Larraz is like a leering letch let loose in a ladies' lingerie store. He comments on the women's private and public parts. He comments on the sex scenes. He celebrates the copious amounts of blood and gore. He swears and curses a blue streak. And he offers wonderfully insightful details about all aspects of the production, even going so far as to explain those baffling, seemingly pointless and disconnected scenes scattered throughout the movie. Larraz had a clear, concrete vision for his erotic thriller and it's fascinating to hear him discuss the dynamics achieved and lost in bringing that ideal to the screen. While very sparse in parts (a couple of times you'll think a technical glitch switched the soundtrack back over), it's also a great discussion of how a film like Vampyres came to be.
For those of you who love the site of lassies licking each other like lollipops, for anyone who revels in buckets of bloodshed, for the Hammer/horror buff and Dracula revisionist alike, there is something here to please each and every one of you. Vampyres may not be some long lost classic, but at least it understands how to please its audience...with hot lashings of lesbian action...that's how. YEEEOW!
Review content copyright © 2003 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Blue Underground
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Audio Commentary with Producer Brian Smedley-Aston and Director Jose Ramon Larraz
* International Trailer
* US Trailer
* Poster and Still Gallery
* Anulka Glamour Gallery
* "Lost" Caravan Scene
* Jose Ramon Larraz Bio
* Return of the Vampyres: Interviews with Stars Marianne Morris and Anulka
* Vampyres -- A Tribute to the Ultimate in Erotic Horror Cinema (DVD-ROM)